Prayer is the bread and butter of walking with Christ. When you pray in the right way, you are bringing your heart and mind in line with Christ in the highest form of worship and communion. Private prayer is a time of self-examination. It is grasping tightly to the promises of God and presenting your petitions to Him like a child does to his or her parents. It is a posture of reliance and reverence before the Lord of the universe and boldly entering into the throne room as a child of the King.
But what is the right way to pray? I have often found myself wandering around in my prayers till they simply fizzled out. There was little experience of fellowship with Christ, and I came away without that feeling of having been in the presence of God. I realized later that my prayers had been orbiting self. I was praying about my problems, my desires, and my needs. It was all about me. I had been neglecting the promises of God in my prayers, reducing them from petitions to whines.
So I began thinking about how Christ prayed, looking to Him as my model.
Christ prayed for the church
“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours” (John 17:9).
The church is the fellowship of your brothers and sisters, the body of Christ. Following the pattern of Jesus, you are to lay aside your own needs and lift up the needs of the church. The church isn’t perfect, but it is being perfected. “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). Pray that the church will grow in Christlikeness. Pray that the church will rely on Christ for all things. Pray that the church will learn to love those who persecute Christians. Pray that the church will faithfully preach the gospel to dying sinners out of love and compassion.
Christ prayed for individual Christians
“And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1b).
If you are faithfully attending Christian fellowship, individuals who have unique walks with Christ, complete with their own struggles and trials, surround you. Pray for all whom God lays on your heart by name, and follow your prayers with actions on their behalf where action is needed. Pray that each one will find encouragement in the Word, that he or she will walk with the Lord closely. Pray that hearts will be warmed by the gospel and in turn go out into their circles overflowing with the grace and love of Christ.
Christ prayed for the unrepentant
“Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do’” (Luke 23:34).
Everywhere you go you will meet men and women who refuse to turn to Jesus. They are content to drink from the dry, dusty cup of the world and sin, not knowing that they are dead and that everything they do is offensive to the great and holy God of the universe. Pray that they would come to the end of themselves and not be deceived by the greatest lie of this world: that Christ is not worth following. Not only should you pray for them, but follow your prayers with action! Live out Jesus and the gospel before them. Do not let the things you say and do confuse the message of the gospel. Love them as Christ loves them.
Christ prayed that God would be glorified
“Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name. Then a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘I have both glorified it and will glorify it again’” (John 12:27-28).
The life you are living is a loan to you. It came from God, and everything you do between your birth and death should be an act of worship to Him. Pray that God would do His will in your life, that your heart would be soft and compliant to His direction and His Word.
Christ prayed for Himself
“And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5).
This goes hand in hand with praying for God the Father’s glory. For Christ to be glorified is your greatest good, because if He is glorified, you are glorified (Ephesians 2:5-6). Pray that Jesus would be glorified in your life, in the worship and witness of the church, in the nation and the world at large. Pray that the glory of Christ would overflow the doors of the churches and flood the streets, that sinners would see Him and be drawn by His irresistible grace and beauty.